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Journal Article

Genetics of Fluctuating Asymmetry: A Developmental Model of Developmental Instability

Christian Peter Klingenberg and H. Frederik Nijhout
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 358-375
DOI: 10.2307/2640773
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640773
Page Count: 18
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Genetics of Fluctuating Asymmetry: A Developmental Model of Developmental Instability
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Abstract

Although numerous studies have found that fluctuating asymmetry (FA) can have a heritable component, the genetic and developmental basis of FA is poorly understood. We used a developmental model of a trait, according to a diffusion-threshold process, whose parameters are under genetic control. We added a small amount of random variation to the parameter values of this model to simulate developmental noise. As a result of the nonlinearity of the model, different genotypes differed in their sensitivity to developmental noise, even though the noise is completely random and independent of the genotype. The heritable component of FA can thus be understood as genetically modulated expression of variation that is itself entirely nongenetic. The loci responsible for this genetic variation of FA are the same that affect the left/right mean of the trait, showing that genetic variation for FA does not require genes that specifically control FA. Furthermore, the model offers alternative explanations for phenomena widely discussed in the literature on FA, for instance, the correlations between FA and heterozygosity and between FA and trait size. The model underscores the importance of dominance and epistasis, and therefore unites the study of FA with the classical theory of quantitative genetics.

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